Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens
For several years now, Toronto-based artist Olia Mishchenko has been producing drawings that render impossible architectural constructions and urban public spaces. Here at Oakville Galleries, Mishchenko has created a new body of work that takes as its point of departure the history of Gairloch Gardens—a site that has been made and re-made many times over.
In delicate pen and ink, Mishchenko’s drawings depict the construction, modification and expansion of an imaginary park. While Gairloch Gardens’ particular history figures prominently into these works, the artist draws on a variety of cultivated landscapes, both experienced and fictional, to consider the ways that our natural landscapes, parks and gardens are shaped and managed.
While creating these works, Raymond Roussel’s novel Locus Solus (1914) was a touchstone for Mishchenko, with her drawings serving as a counterpart to Roussel’s resistance to conventional storytelling, his dazzling garden descriptions and the atmosphere of alien strangeness in his writing.
Mishchenko’s exhibition delivers meticulous scenes in which figures endlessly work and play amidst the landscapes they have wrought, ultimately representing a microcosm of a post-industrial world and the tensions that hold it together. While gardens have often occupied a special place in utopian representations, Mishchenko’s confident renderings draw us closer to the garden as a site of contestation and as a repository for social, spiritual, and ecological meanings. Her vignettes demonstrate that our environments are not inert, but rather linked to networks of historical, social and political relations.